Monday, April 30, 2012

Indiana Utility Regulators Reach Deal With Duke Energy That Screws Ratepayers, No Surprise

Duke Energy carried on construction of its coal gasification plant at Edwardsport with the same reckless abandon that its predecessor, PSI, carried on its construction of the Marble Hill Nuclear Power plant in Madison back in the 1970s. Who gives a shit how much it costs to pay when we've got the regulators in our back pocket who will agree to pass on any cost overruns to consumers. When the company first obtained the IURC's approval for the project a few years ago, it claimed it would cost $1.985 billion. The costs have now soared to at least $3.3 billion. The IURC thinks consumers should be happy with a deal that only requires them to pay about half of the cost overruns, while the other half is to be absorbed by Duke Energy's shareholders. Utility rates will be hiked 14.5% over two years instead of the 22% rate increase Duke was seeking and for which it had initially received thumbs up from the IURC's former general counsel and administrative law judge, Scott Storms, shortly before he was hired by the utility and later fired after e-mails obtained by the Star revealed a too cozy relationship that existed between IURC officials and Duke executives. The IBJ has this reaction from Kerwin Olson, a consumer watchdog:
Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizen Action Coalition, said the settlement came as a shock to him. He said the power plant should never have been approved.
"The settlement on the surface appears to give Duke Energy far too much. The terms appear to be completely unacceptable to CAC," he said.
The deal has been signed off on by the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, which never really seems to represent the interest of consumers. Most of the people who hold key positions in the office wind up going to work for the same utilities they're hired to serve as a check on, which should tell you something about the office's credibility in these matters. Duke Energy's Indiana President's reaction was predictable:
Duke Energy Indiana President Doug Esamann says the agreement meets two objectives, reducing what Indiana customers will pay in rates and resolving uncertainty for Duke Energy shareholders.
"We're now in the home stretch of completing a facility that will modernize our electric system and provide Indiana with cleaner power to meet increasingly strict federal environmental regulations," he said.
The operative objective here was to resolve uncertainty for Duke's shareholders. The deal does little to alleviate the higher cost of electricity that the company is being allowed to pass on to consumers under this agreement. Nothing at all has changed at the most corrupt public utility regulator in the country. It's nothing but a glorified auction to line the pockets of the utility industry.

The comparisons between this Edwardsport project and the failed Marble Hill nuclear power plant project are too eerie. Duke's predecessor, PSI, originally told state regulators the plant would cost about $1 billion to build when it obtained approval for it in the 1970s. After the company spent $2.8 billion and construction was about 60% complete, the company abandoned the project in 1984. Under the deal state regulators struck with Duke for the Edwardsport project, construction costs paid by consumers will be capped at $2.6 billion, or about $700 million less than the anticipated $3.3 billion cost. If the past is any indication, there will be a lot more to this story before it finally ends, none of which will likely be good news for the utility's consumers.

Lugar Will Not Support Mourdock If He Wins

You heard it here first that Sen. Richard Lugar had no intention of backing Richard Mourdock to replace him in the U.S. Senate if he loses the May 8th primary race to him. Lugar has used his vast financial resources to wage a scorched-earth campaign against Mourdock to help ensure his defeat in the November general election against U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) if he loses to him in the primary. The National Review's Brian Bolduc asked Lugar's spokesman, Andy Fisher, to confirm that Sen. Lugar would support Mourdock if he won the nomination, and he refused to answer the question. In contrast, Mourdock's spokesman unequivocally stated Mourdock's commitment to supporting the entire Republican ticket. Instead, Fisher would only say that Lugar would welcome Mourdock's after Lugar wins the primary.

In an interview with the Christian Broadasting Network's David Brody, Lugar blamed his tough race on the fact that he is one of the few Republican incumbents up for re-election, and out-of-state conservative groups seeking to unseat him because he is not sufficiently conservative. Lugar noticeably overlooks his self-inflicted residency problems that have plagued his campaign and the short shrift he has increasingly given to the state's residents after 35 years in the Senate in favor of spending his time on foreign junkets rather than visiting and listening to people in his home state. Lugar suggested that Mourdock would have little chance of winning the November election if he is the nominee, while he thinks his chances against Joe Donnelly are much better despite indications that his favorable ratings have fallen well below 50%, which typically portend the death knell of an incumbent. What Lugar is conveying is that he will do everything within his power to propagate a negative outlook on Mourdock to ensure the fulfillment of his prophecy.

Another Ogden For Judge Ad

Paul Ogden has a second ad narrated by himself that tackles the judicial slating process head on. MCANA hosted most of the judicial candidates who will appear on the May primary ballot at its most recent meeting, which is currently airing on WCTY. I encourage you to take a look at it if you want to learn more about the Marion County candidates running for judge in the May primary. The local media has decided the judicial races are not a subject worthy of discussion so it's the only place other than the blogs that you are going to learn anything about the judicial candidates. Ogden and Judge Carol Orbison are the only Republican candidate challenging the 12 slated candidates. On the Democratic side, attorneys Mark King and Greg Bowes are two outsiders challenging a slate of 12 candidates. It's the only choice you'll have in deciding these 24 judicial spots. The candidates who win the May primary win the November election by default since the party bosses created a system that offers voters no choices in the general election, effectively giving them near total control over the selection of our judges in Marion County.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Slusser Walked On $600,000 Penalty Because Government Failed To Timely Collect It

Wouldn't we all be so fortunate if the IRS was as lax in collecting money we owe the U.S. government as the government was in collecting a penalty the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") was in collecting a $600,000 penalty against businessman Jerry Slusser for what a federal court described as "his unscrupulous business dealings with a group of German investors." After this blog questioned why several Indiana Republican candidates, including Gov. Mitch Daniels and then-Marion Co. GOP Prosecutor candidate Mark Massa, were relying on Slusser to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their campaigns, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett announced that his office had filed a lawsuit to collect the $600,000 judgment that had been affirmed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals against Slusser in 2004. The matter was assigned to Judge Tanya Walton-Pratt, who was asked by Slusser's attorneys to dismiss the action because the government waited beyond the 5-year statute of limitations to collect on the judgment. Walton-Pratt granted summary judgment last November in Slusser's favor.

Pratt's decision notes that the CFTC sent a notice to Slusser's counsel on April 26, 2004 demanding payment of the $600,000 in full. The CFTC threatened to refer the matter to the Attorney General, which "had an array of collection methods at its disposal." Pratt notes that Slusser failed to appeal the decision affirming the $600,000 fine on March 8, 2004 from which he had 15 days to appeal; instead, Slusser waited until May 12, 2004 to file his appeal. The 7th Circuit granted the CFTC's motion to dismiss almost two years later because Slusser's appeal notice was not timely filed on April 10, 2006. Inexplicably, the government waited seven years from the date of the original final decision before it brought its enforcement action against Slusser to enforce the $600,000 fine for a case it had expended enormous government resources to obtain. The government tried to claim that the statute of limitations was tolled while it awaited the 7th Circuit's decision on its motion to dismiss the appeal Slusser had failed to timely file. Judge Walton-Pratt ruled the law provided otherwise.

In granting Slusser's motion to dismiss the government's lawsuit to collect the $600,000 against him, Judge Walton-Pratt wrote: "Hopefully, the Government has other collection methods at its disposal to collect the fine that Mr. Slusser unquestionably owes. Unfortunately (that word bears repeating under the circumstances), sometimes otherwise meritorious claims are barred by the statute of limitations." It's absolutely unbelievable that the government simply dropped the ball in this fashion. Slusser, in effect, received absolutely no penalty for defrauding these investors. It's worth noting that Tim Durham was only brought to justice after the government was backed into a corner and forced to act. Both federal and state regulators had ignored whistle blower complaints against Durham for years before the wheels finally came off Durham's Ponzi scheme that cost small Ohio investors more than $200 million. It seems the government had forgotten all about the money Slusser owed it until this blog noted how much money he was showering on certain political candidates.

Incidentally, Slusser was represented by Indianapolis high profile criminal defense lawyer Jim Voyles. The bankrtuptcy trustee for Fair Finance had sued Voyles to collect a $25,000 retainer fee Durham had paid to him the trustee claims should have been paid to Fair Finance's investors. The trustee settled that claim against Voyles after his law firm agreed to repay the bankrutpcy trustee less than a third of the amount that it had received from Durham.

Two Newspaper Endorsements In Senate Race Offer Contrasting Views

The Star editorial board has endorsed the 80-year-old Sen. Richard Lugar for an unprecedented seventh term to no one's surprise. Richard Mourdock's hometown newspaper, the Evansville Courier & Press, favors the local guy. The explanation offered by the two editorial boards shows quite a contrast in how the two editorial boards approached the two candidates and offers a good indication of how this primary race is ending.

The Star's editorial board assumed its readers would be repulsed by its decision so it lists four major objections to sending Lugar back to Washington where he's lived the past 35 years for another 6-year term and explains why you should discount those objections, not exactly a ringing endorsement. Lugar may appear to be out of touch, but Mourdock is an ideologue who "is more likely to hurt than help" according to the editors. Lugar may differ with his Republican colleagues on a number of important issues, but he's with them on most of the issues they tell us. Yeah, he will be 86 years old when his next term would end, but he still has "an impressive depth of knowledge on issues such as energy and agriculture." And Lugar's residency problem isn't a "trivial" matter (never mind all that bluster we exhibited over Charlie White's one-time problem), but he didn't have time to spend in Indiana the past 35 years because he was too busy working on "nuclear disarmament, foreign relations and other national policies." Yeah, not exactly the kind of talking points the Lugar campaign can use in a 30-second spot, eh? Nonetheless, you can bet Lugar's campaign will find at least one phrase worth using.

The Evansville's Courier & Press offers an endorsement of Mourdock based on their in-depth knowledge of his career and background. "Indeed, our view is that Mourdock is eminently qualified for the position," the editors write. His background as a geologist and coal industry executive provides him "a hands-on understanding of energy issues." As a former county commissioner and State Treasurer, the editors know him as a person "that knows finance and economics." "And we know him as a highly intelligent man with a passion for knowledge who remains a student of history" who "shows no fear of the issues." In the view of the newspaper's editor's the "era of deficit spending" requires "a conservative thinker in step with Hoosier voters." "Mourdock makes a convincing argument to succeed Lugar," they conclude.

Friday, April 27, 2012

WRTV's Kara Kenney Named Journalist Of The Year

Congratulations to WRTV's Kara Kenney on her selection as the Indiana Journalist of the Year by the Indiana Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Kenney was lauded, in particular for her reporting that uncovered the controversial million-dollar retirement package for the former Wayne Township School superintendent. The Star's John Russell was also recognized for his outstanding reporting on the inappropriate dealings between Duke Energy executives and IURC officials.

Palin Endorses Mourdock

Sarah Palin posted her endorsement of Richard Mourock over Sen. Richard Lugar on Mourdock's Facebook page. The Star's Mary Beth Schneider quotes from Palin's statement:

Palin said she joined “commonsense conservatives in endorsing Richard Mourdock,” saying it wasn’t just Indiana but the nation “that benefits from sending the right senator to serve for the right reasons.”
“Senator Lugar’s 36 years of service as a senator are appreciated,” Palin wrote, “but it’s time for the torch to pass to conservative leadership in Washington that promises to rein in government spending now.”
Lugar’s campaign had no immediate response. Voters will choose the GOP nominee in the May 8 primary election. The winner will face Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly.
Palin's 2008 running mate, Arizona Sen. John McCain, endorsed Lugar's re-election, which was a bit perplexing given the fact that Lugar skipped every McCain-Palin campaign appearance in Indiana during the 2008 presidential campaign and allowed Barack Obama to use him in his campaign commercials that blanketed the Indiana airwaves throughout the presidential campaign.

Frank Straub's Tumultuous Tenure Comes To An End

Mayor Greg Ballard today accepted the resignation of his embattled Public Safety Director Frank Straub. Ballard released the following statement to the media a short time ago:
“Frank Straub came to Indianapolis facing the difficult task of updating and modernizing the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at the same time preparing for and successfully hosting the highest profile event in this city’s history.  It hasn’t always been easy but meaningful reform seldom is.  
During Frank’s tenure criminal homicides are at their lowest levels in 15 years, the city’s integrated public safety model is receiving national and international recognition, IMPD and IFD training is being modernized and steps are being actively taken to improve the diversity of hiring and promotions in our public safety departments.
Frank Straub’s work set the stage for the Department of Public Safety and all of its divisions to proudly serve this city in a positive fashion for years to come.”
In his resignation letter, Straub told the Mayor that he had "accomplished his mission" to "build a new public safety department, to re-engineer the police department, to enhance the operations of the police department, to enhance the various operations of our various divisions, to protect the Super Bowl, and other large public events." He actually patted himself on the back a lot more than that, but it's too long, self-serving and boring to read in its entirety.

UPDATE: There's a rumor circulating that Ballard Chief of Staff Chris Cotterill, a former Barnes & Thornburg attorney, will be stepping down and be replaced by another Barnes & Thornburg attorney, City-County Councilor Ryan Vaughn, who is a bit bored these days serving as a mere minority caucus member instead of council president.

Lugar Plays Military Service Card Against Mourdock

I previously reported on a misfire Lugar's 1974 Senate campaign manager Mitch Daniels made when he allowed letters to be sent out to military veterans touting Lugar's former service in the Navy and implying that his opponent, Sen. Birch Bayh, an Army veteran, had not served his country. Daniels quickly fessed up to the "mistake": "It was a mistake…an honest mistake and we admit it . . . Daniels said about 600 letters went out to Indiana military veterans by a campaign volunteer." There's no mistaking the latest attack Lugar has launched against Richard Mourdock questioning why he never served in the military. The Indiana Legislative Insight's Ed Feigenbaum reports on a recent letter Lugar's campaign mailed to Hoosier veterans:

"Why vote for a guy who didn't have the time for his country and doesn't have time for us?" The letter reminds vets that Lugar is a veteran who volunteered because he believed it was his duty, and he is a great advocate for our troops. Most importantly, he's one of just a few Senators who truly knows what it takes to keep the military strong" and "On veteran's issues, he's got the most dedicated staff in Congress working for us."
I guess former Gov. Joe Kernan, a Vietnam POW veteran, could have asked why Hoosier veterans would consider voting for his then-Republican opponent for governor, Mitch Daniels, who also sat out the Vietnam War and joined in the anti-war movement as a student at Princeton University where he was busted for dealing drugs out of his dorm room, but he was too decent of a man to do so. If Lugar is so offended by Mourdock's lack of military service, why is he using Gov. Daniels in TV ads urging his re-election? It looks like we've yet to see the bottom when it comes to running negative campaigns. Dick Lugar sets all records in that regard.

Ousted Indy Airport CEO Paid $350 An Hour By Gary Airport Authority

It was bad enough that ousted Indianapolis Airport Authority CEO John Clark was given a $270,000 going away gift it was under no legal obligation to pay him for a job poorly done, but we learned soon enough that Clark landed a $5,000 a month contract working for the Gary Airport Authority. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson wanted reporters up north to know that she was responsible for Clark's hiring but had no idea the contract the authority approved pays Clark $350 an hour for his make-work job. It's no secret that Mayor Freeman-Wilson agreed to hire Clark as a favor to Ice Miller's Lacy Johnson, who was responsible for Clark's hiring in Indianapolis. Johnson helped his good golfing buddy Clark land the throw-away consulting work in Gary to help pay for those expensive foreign sports cars he likes to drive at high speeds and his lavish travel until he suckers another airport into hiring him. The Northwest Indiana Times reports:

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said former Indianapolis airport CEO John Clark was hired by the Gary Airport Authority at her direction, but she would like to re-examine his $350-per-hour pay rate.
"That certainly does not sound correct," she said Wednesday when asked about Clark's pay rate as approved by the Airport Authority at its meeting Monday.
The mayor has no direct control over the day-to-day operations of the airport or the authority. However, under state statute the mayor appoints four of the authority's seven members.
Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority members voted 4-0 on Monday to approve the contract with Clark's newly formed JClark Aviation Group.
Voting in favor were Nathaniel Williams, Cornell Collins and the Rev. Marion Johnson, all former Mayor Rudy Clay's appointees, and Tramel Raggs, Lake County's appointment. Robert Poparad, Porter County's appointee, abstained. Ross Amundson and Silas Wilkerson were absent. Amundson was appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels, and Wilkerson is a Clay appointee . . .
The mayor confirmed the job was not advertised for bid, nor was any request for proposals issued. That was not required because the agreement with JClark Aviation is for professional services only, she said . . .
Contacted on Thursday, John Clark said his three-person firm already is at work on identifying business opportunities for the Gary airport. His son, Jonathan Clark, and Al Stanley are his partners in JClark Aviation Group, he said.
"My forte in this business has been growing businesses and business development at airports," Clark said . . .  
Clark left the Indianapolis airport's top job after the airport authority declined to renew his contract. He had been chief executive there for three years.

The Indianapolis Business Journal recently reported Clark and two others spent more than $67,000 last year on travel to destinations such as Brazil, Denmark and Morocco. Clark said all of those trips were approved by the Indianapolis Airport Authority chairman and board.

Star Endorses McGoff In Fifth District Race

It's not the first time he's received the endorsement of the Star in his quest to represent Indiana's 5th congressional district, but Dr. John McGoff will take all the help he can get in winning his third bid for this seat in a very crowded primary race. The Star editorial board has wanted U.S. Rep. Dan Burton driven from office for some time, and McGoff was the first Republican to take up the challenge. The editors explain their choice of McGoff over what they viewed as "six credible candidates":

But from that talented lineup, there's one candidate -- Dr. John McGoff -- who edges ahead of the rest based on his professional and personal experience, his thoughtful stance on key issues such as health care, and his history of independent thinking.
McGoff, an emergency room physician and former Marion County coroner, is well-suited to help craft a federal approach to health care and health insurance, a task that may become even more essential if the U.S. Supreme Court in the weeks ahead overturns all or parts of President Obama's health-care law.
McGoff also displays a grounded, seasoned approach to issues of foreign policy and national defense. He's served in the National Guard for 29 years, holds the rank of brigadier general and now serves as chief of staff in the Indiana Guard.
Another factor strongly in McGoff's favor is that he jumped into the 5th District fray long before it became popular. McGoff not only challenged Burton in the 2008 GOP primary, he also made a strong showing that first revealed the incumbent's vulnerability. McGoff returned to the hunt in 2010, and Burton almost certainly would have been turned out of office then but for the fact that a bevy of challengers split the vote.
McGoff, perhaps because of his willingness to challenge a longtime incumbent, isn't the favorite of Republican bosses. McIntosh appears to be the anointed favorite. But his record speaks well of McGoff's ability to stand for what he thinks is right rather than what partisan leaders want.
That trait is often lacking in Congress, which needs more leaders with McGoff's experience, depth and independence.
The Star Editorial Board strongly endorses Dr. John McGoff in the Republican 5th district primary on May 8.
I have to say that I'm surprised by the Star's endorsement of McGoff. Most people expected them to back the only female candidate in the race, Susan Brooks, who has the backing of a lot of establishment folks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Obama Flip Flops On Banning Farm Kids From Working

Apparently Barack Obama got a hint from some of his political advisers just how much animus he stirred up in rural America in response to his big brother government plan to ban children from working on their parent's farm. The emotions stirred up by this proposal was unprecedented. Obama is now backtracking and withdrawing the proposed rule change.

Under heavy pressure from farm groups, the Obama administration said Thursday it would drop an unpopular plan to prevent children from doing hazardous work on farms owned by anyone other than their parents.
The Labor Department said it is withdrawing proposed rules that would ban children younger than 16 from using most power-driven farm equipment, including tractors. The rules also would prevent those younger than 18 from working in feed lots, grain bins and stockyards.
While labor officials said their goal was to reduce the fatality rate for child farm workers, the proposal had become a popular political target for Republicans who called it an impractical, heavy-handed regulation that ignored the reality of small farms.
"It's good the Labor Department rethought the ridiculous regulations it was going to stick on farmers and their families," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. "To even propose such regulations defies common sense, and shows a real lack of understanding as to how the family farm works." . . .

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a grain farmer known to till his fields on weekends away from Washington, had come out strongly against the proposed rule. The Democrat continued to criticize the Obama administration rule even after it was tempered earlier this year, saying the Labor Department "clearly didn't get the whole message" from Montana's farmers and ranchers.

Tester, who is in a tough race for re-election, on Thursday praised the decision to withdraw the rule and said he would fight "any measure that threatens that heritage and our rural way of life."

Undocumented Aliens Defrauding IRS With Bogus Child Care Tax Credits

WTHR's Bob Segal turns in an excellent report this evening about a growing fraud problem associated with undocumented aliens filing tax returns using taxpayer identification numbers issued by the government so they can report income they earn from their unauthorized work they are performing in the United States. A tax preparer tips Segal off about the problem of these undocumented workers claiming the additional child tax credit of $1,000 per child, sometimes as many as 10 to 12, and for children that are not even living in the United States. The tax preparer tells Segal that he is seeing tax returns being filed that are yielding tax refunds of $10,000 to $12,000.

Segal spoke to the Inspector General for the IRS, Russell George, who essentially confirmed the tax preparer's allegations. The problem was created when banks a number of years ago convinced the IRS to issue taxpayer identification numbers so that undocumented aliens who don't possess social security numbers, at least legally, could open up bank accounts and deposit and report income they earned, even if the work was not authorized. The IRS thought it was a great idea because the government would start collecting taxes that were previously going unreported. Tax preparers lured these people into their offices with promises of helping get the bigger tax refunds for them. Claiming the additional child tax care credit was the easiest way of  bolstering their refunds. According to Russell, people filing tax returns using TINs are now claiming over $4 billion a year in additional child care tax credits. Despite the IRS' knowledge of the fraud taking place, it is simply ignoring the problem.

While Segal's report focuses entirely on the child care tax credit, WRTV's Rafael Sanchez uncovered a scheme run by a west side tax preparer who was targeting the Hispanic community with offers of higher tax refunds. That tax preparer was making bogus American Opportunity Tax Credits for college-related expenses for the individual tax returns it was preparing for taxpayers. Sanchez reported long lines of people waiting outside the door to get their tax returns prepared. Their refunds were deposited into an account of the tax preparer, which was keeping large contingency fees based on the size of the refund they obtained for the taxpayer. Sanchez learned that abuse of the education tax credit was widespread throughout the country and was costing the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars annually.

New Poll Shows Lugar Trailing Mourdock

Politico is reporting on the results of a new poll that shows Richard Mourdock leading Sen. Richard Lugar in the May 8th primary by five points, 44-39%. The poll was conducted by Wenzel Strategies on behalf of Citizens United, a SuperPAC supporting Mourdock's campaign. A poll taken by the same firm in mid-March showed Lugar with a 6-point, 44-38% lead.

Among voters describing themselves as tea party conservatives, Mourdock has a commanding 63-24% lead. The bad news for both candidates is that their unfavorable rating has increased as the candidates and SuperPACs have bombarded the airwaves with negative attacks against the two candidates. Lugar's favorable rating has fallen to 44%, which is higher than Mourdock's favorable rating of 38%.

The poll surveyed 601 likely primary voters and has a margin of error of 4%.

Ogden For Judge

Marion County judicial candidate Paul Ogden has launched an ad for his campaign touting his experience and the fact that he did not pay a $12,000 slating fee to party bosses in order to run for office as the twelve slated Republican candidates were required to do, a process Gov. Mitch Daniels has derided as a "travesty."

Gregg's Tax Cut Proposal

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg stakes out an early position to cut taxes to prevent his Republican opponent, Mike Pence, from outflanking him on the tax issue. Gregg's proposal is to eliminate the sales tax on gasoline, which he says will save the average family from $261 to $522 annually. Some may recall that former Gov. Frank O'Bannon temporarily suspended the tax after gas prices spiked in 2000 when he was running for re-election. The price of gas at that time was $1.80. Hoosiers have seen gasoline prices more recently spike to nearly $4 a gallon in keeping with President Barack Obama's desire to see gas prices go up at the pump by pursuing policies to lock up the vast oil resources under American soil to ensure our dependence on the oil owned by his true masters in the Middle East.

The tax cut would reduce state revenues by more than a half billion dollars. Gregg says he will make up for the lost revenues by cutting programs and finding savings elsewhere. Gregg's tax cut plan must infuriate liberals within the Democratic Party, who already think the state is taxing and spending too little. A spokesman for Mike Pence says that he is not opposed to the idea, but he would prefer "broad-based tax reform and the kind of energy policies that will reduce prices at the pump for Hoosiers and lessen our dependence on foreign oil." A spokesman for the Indiana Republican Party, Pete Seat, criticized Gregg for not having a concrete plan to pay for the tax cut.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Acting Chief Justice Dickson Encourages Applicants For Supreme Court

Acting Chief Justice Brent Dickson sent the following e-mail message to Indiana attorneys encouraging them to consider applying for the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by Justice Frank Sullivan's decision to step down to accept a teaching position at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis:

Dear fellow Indiana lawyer,

I was forty-four years old in 1985 when two lawyer friends urged that I consider being a candidate for a just-announced opening on the Indiana Supreme Court. I had never aspired to serve as an appellate judge, and was quite content in my seventeenth year of general law practice in Lafayette, Indiana. But their suggestion prompted me to consider the possibility and ultimately led to my appointment.

As you may know, Justice Frank Sullivan has just announced that he will retire later this summer to accept a full-time faculty position at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. I am sending this email to urge all Indiana lawyers to seriously consider the possibility of appellate judicial service.

The application deadline for the Sullivan vacancy has not yet been established but will likely occur in late spring/early summer. When available, application details will be published on the Court’s website, To be eligible, you must be a citizen of the United States and either admitted to the practice of law in Indiana for not less than ten years or have served as a judge of an Indiana circuit or superior court for not less than five years.

In addition, for those in the Second District, Judge Carr Darden's retirement is creating a vacancy in the Court of Appeals. Applications for this vacancy must be submitted by May 9, 2012.

Appellate judicial service can be an enormously satisfying opportunity to serve your profession and your fellow Hoosiers. Please consider submitting your application.

Brent E. Dickson
Acting Chief Justice
Indiana Supreme Court

National Review: Lugar Fighting Dirty, Attacks On Mourdock Are Juvenile

The National Review's Brian Bolduc has a spot on column discussing the dirty campaign that Sen. Richard Lugar is waging against Richard Mourdock:

In person, Senator Dick Lugar (R., Ind.) is a model of probity. “His personal style is very moderate and very pleasant,” says Jeff Bergner, a former staffer. “He tries whenever he can to get someone to come around to his side by persuasion rather than by yelling.”

In a primary, however, he’s no-holds-barred — even juvenile.

State treasurer Richard Mourdock has trained his fire on Lugar’s voting record: his support for President Obama’s Supreme Court appointees, his sponsorship of the DREAM Act, and his backing of the ethanol mandate, to name a few examples.

Lugar’s campaign is meeting fire with fire. But Mourdock lacks a voting record, so Lugar has focused on character, maligning Mourdock’s by insinuating he’s untrustworthy.
On the state party database kerfuffle, Bolduc writes:

The Lugar campaign, however, has blown this story out of proportion. In a press release, it claimed the Mourdock campaign was “under investigation” and the subject of an “Indiana Republican-party probe.” Former state-party chairman Jim Kittle, a Lugar supporter, called the controversy a “security breach.”
But Jamey Noel, a member of the Indiana Republican state committee, says there was no probe that he knows of: “I was kind of surprised when I heard that, unless it was something that came up privately in a subcommittee meeting. It was never mentioned in the open meeting.” Crucially, the matter was referred to the party’s technology committee, not the disciplinary rules committee. The party wasn’t punishing Mourdock for a security breach; it was simply trying to ensure the voter database didn’t fall into the wrong hands.
On the Club For Growth's support of Mourdock's campaign:

After the free-market advocate the Club for Growth began airing aids on behalf of Mourdock, Lugar sent a letter to the Mourdock campaign asking that it push the Club for Growth to disclose its donors’ names. “I am sure you would agree with me that Hoosiers deserve to and should know from whom The Club for Growth’s money is being contributed so that we all can be assured and confident the anti-circumvention provisions, which bar attempts to launder such banned direct contributions through another entity indirectly, are followed,” Lugar wrote.

On the homestead exemption fraud claim:
Consider the Lugar attack ad “Trust.” “For years,” the ad says, “Richard Mourdock received $45,000 in illegal second-homestead tax deductions.” That’s true: Mourdock received a homestead tax deduction for both his home in Evansville and his condo in Indianapolis, although state law grants each resident only one deduction on his primary residence. According to the county auditor’s office, however, the previous owner of the condo applied for the deduction, not Mourdock. Furthermore, Mourdock notified the office that he was wrongly receiving the deduction in 2007. Because of a filing error by the auditor’s office, he received the credit for the next three years. But when he again discovered the error in June 2011, Mourdock notified the auditor’s office once more, and the office admitted its error.

Bolduc's conclusion:

Thus far, Lugar’s charges against Mourdock are making up in volume what they lack in strength. The desperate nature of the attacks — and their profusion — indicates that this primary race will be close.

Obama's War On Family Farms

Nothing is sacred in American anymore under this dictatorship otherwise known as the Obama administration. Those of us who grew up on family-owned farms learned the value of hard work at a very young age helping our parents sow and harvest the crops and tending to the livestock. The Obama administration has deemed this to be a cruel form of child labor that must be eradicated. The proposed Department of Labor rules would even prevent children from participating in 4-H and FFA projects. From the Daily Caller:
A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now it’s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.
The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.
Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.”
“Prohibited places of employment,” a Department press release read, “would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”
The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the government’s approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA, replacing them instead with a 90-hour federal government training course.
Rossie Blinson, a 21-year-old college student from Buis Creek, N.C., told The Daily Caller that the federal government’s plan will do far more harm than good.
“The main concern I have is that it would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if they’re not at their parents’ house,” said Blinson.
And to think Obama represented a leading agriculture state like Illinois in the U.S. Senate.  He never once visited the downstate, rural county I hail from when he represented Illinois in the Senate. The good people of Clark County voted overwhelmingly for carpet-bagger Alan Keyes when he ran for the Senate against Obama in 2004, and they overwhelmingly supported John McCain in the 2008 presidential race. Their worst fears of this man have come true. The Catholic bishop in Peoria who likened Obama to Hitler and Stalin was on to something.

Washington Insiders Bracing For Lugar's Defeat

Washington political columnist Paul Bedard tells his readers that Washington insiders now believe that six-term incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch will prevail in his tough primary race in Utah. It's Indiana's Sen. Richard Lugar that is keeping the Washington insiders up late at night:

...Washington Republicans aren't worried about [Utah Senator Orin Hatch] keeping his seat. All of that fear is being directed at embattled Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, who faces a primary fight in two weeks with state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
It's no secret that Hatch, after watching the Tea Party crush his fellow Utah Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010, remade himself into a conservative firebrand while Lugar chose to sell his experience to voters. It's not working and the GOP is bracing for his primary defeat.
Hat tip to HoosierPundit.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Former Pence Finance Director Working To Defeat Mourdock While Fundraising For Romney

Earlier this year, I questioned whether it was wise for Mike Pence's campaign to employ as its finance director a man who worked for indicted Indianapolis real estate developer John Bales at Venture Real Estate while Bales was allegedly engaged in double-dealing his client, the State of Indiana, on the leasing of real estate for the state's Department of Child Services. Obst left the Pence campaign shortly after my blog post to become President of Hoosiers for Economic Growth, a SuperPAC that is aiding the re-election of Sen. Richard Lugar by running negative attack ads against Lugar's primary opponent, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The Super PACs paid mouthpiece, Robert Vane, recently gave to reporters a private e-mail that Mourdock's campaign manager, Jim Holden, sent to Obst, chastising him for his new role. As the Star's "Behind Closed Doors" column reported:

Jim Holden, the campaign manager for Mourdock, apparently didn't take it too well when he learned that Marty Obst, a former finance chairman for the Indiana Republican Party, was working for a super PAC that is backing Lugar.

Holden, using his own email and not the Mourdock campaign account, sent Obst an email saying: "I just read about your new job. Congratulations, you are now the newest lowest form of life on earth. I hope you choke on your 30 pieces of silver."

Just in case Obst didn't get the point, Holden included a link to a Wikipedia article on "Judas Iscariot."

Christopher Conner, a spokesman for Mourdock, said only that this was "a personal email between the two of them on a personal matter."

Robert Vane works with Obst at the super PAC Hoosiers for Jobs. Vane is communications director while Obst is the fundraiser.

"He showed (the email) to me and said, 'I want you to take a look at this,' " Vane said. "My actual reaction was, 'Well, Jim Holden has colored more books than he's read.' What does this say about Richard Mourdock's judgment if he keeps Holden as his top aide?"

Mind you, these are all Republicans. Just think what they'd be saying about each other if they were of different political parties.

Hoosiers for Jobs, by the way, started out as Hoosiers for Economic Growth and Jobs. Vane said they shortened the name recently to make it more concise.

Changing the name also might have avoided confusion with another political action committee, Hoosiers for Economic Growth, which was formed a few years ago by businessman Fred Klipsch and Luke Messer, a former state representative and GOP executive director who is running for Congress.

And presumably Klipsch and Messer are happy that their PAC won't be confused with the super PAC. Particularly if it gets into name-calling fights with Senate campaigns.
According to a solicitation for a May 7, 2012 Indianapolis fundraiser at the J.W. Marriott for Romney Victory, Inc., a political action committee supporting Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, Obst is listed as the contact person for purchasing tickets to the event that start at $1,000 per person and run as high as $50,000 per person. Romney Victory, Inc. is a joint fundraising committee composed of Romney for President, the Republican National Committee and the official state Republican parties for Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont according to a disclosure contained on a solicitation for the fundraiser. Ironically, Mourdock is among the various elected Republican officials serving as honorary committee members for the event being hosted by Gov. Mitch Daniels. One of the listed host committee members is Jerry Slusser. Last year after this blog reported on Slusser's controversial role as a fundraiser for Daniels and then-Marion Co. Prosecutor candidate, Mark Massa, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett announced that he was taking Slusser to court to force him to pay up $600,000 he owed the federal government for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. It's nice to know that Republican insiders still turn to a questionable cast of characters for their fundraising efforts in this state. Obviously, nothing has been learned from the Tim Durham experience.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mitch Still Covering For Dick After All These Years

Gov. Mitch Daniels makes a last-ditch appeal to save his long-time political mentor, Sen. Richard Lugar. Daniels cut his teeth in politics working as a young campaign operative under former Marion Co. GOP Chairman Keith Bulen, who according to some insider reports, helped deliver the Republican mayoral nomination in Indianapolis to Lugar after Lugar's mother delivered a check to Bulen for $60,000, which launched Lugar's political career in Indiana politics 45 years ago. Daniels' first campaign working as a paid campaign staffer for his mentor after graduating from Princeton was Lugar's unsuccessful race to unseat former Sen. Birch Bayh in 1974. The Hoosier Hysteria blog reminds us of the role Daniels played in his first government-paid job as Lugar's press aide in the mayor's office. Here's Mitch explaining how he was using his government-paid job to raise campaign funds from city workers for his boss as reported by the Indianapolis Star on January 16, 1975 a little more than two months after Lugar's sobering loss to Bayh:
"Mayor Richard G. Lugar's administration yesterday officially began the GOP Public Employees Fund Drive, a device designed to replace the old 2 per cent patronage deduction from the paychecks of city employees. Fifteen persons, including department heads and most of the mayor's staff, were given the initial opportunity to pledge, a ceremony which resulted in a total annual pledge of $7,420, or almost 3 per cent of the combined annual salaries of those involved. The individual monthly amounts ranged from $30 to $50 . . . Mitchell Daniels, the mayor's press aide, remarked 'We are extremely enthusiastic about this program and expect it to be attractive because of its voluntary nature.' Pledge cards, a misnomer since employes [sic] actually will sign mimeographed sheets of paper, will be distributed to employees through their department or division supervisors next week. UniGov Department heads have been asked to draft a list of employees who should be asked to pledge, and therefore will decide who should be exempted from the program. Daniels speculated that such persons who might be exempted include those whose salaries are derived wholly from Federal funds or who are working in decidedly professional categories. "But that decision rests with the supervisor,' he emphasized. . .It is unknown how many employes [sic] will be asked to participated, but Daniels said the city hopes to raise at least $65,000 , the amount received last year from the payroll deductions. He commented that in some departments, employees traditionally have not contributed and the city hopes to get at least one-half or 1 per cent pledges by virtue of the voluntary nature of the program. He added the payroll deduction program enjoyed marginal success. . .The voluntary program will feature a 'peer-to-peer follow-up effort' in which nonsupervisory coworkers will visit the homes of employees who fail to pledge and encourage the 'maverick' to do so . . . Daniels promised that none of the follow-up consolers will threaten an employe [sic] with dismissal, nor would they be in a position to do so . . . Many city employes [sic], however, are concerned that the program, for all its pretense will be little removed from the payroll deduction system under which some workers were threatened with dismissal for failure to pay."
This is why today's Indianapolis Star reporters refuse to read their own newspaper's archives. It's just shocking what was matter-of-factly reported back in those days in the state's newspaper of record. As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now you know the rest of the story."

Hack Reporter At WISH-TV Reports Bogus FEC Complaint Against Mourdock As Legitimate News

It's not enough that the campaign of Sen. Richard Lugar had one of their supporters on the Indiana Republican Party's state central committee file a complaint with the party alleging that the Mourdock campaign violated the terms of use for a party e-mail database known as Salesforce, Lugar's campaign has also filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission knowing full well that the FEC has absolutely no jurisdiction to hear a complaint based on the misuse of a party-owned computer database. Despite the fact that the FEC can do nothing with the complaint because it lacks jurisdiction, a hack political reporter who is supporting Lugar's re-election, WISH-TV's Jim Shella, reported on the filing of the complaint as if it was legitimate news.

Richard Mourdock's Senate campaign is now the subject of a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission.
It has to do with the accusation that the Mourdock campaign improperly downloaded information from a GOP database. The state Republican Party last week cut off the campaign's access to the database known as Salesforce.
The complaint was filed by John McCane, a former mayor of Rushville, who alleges that Mourdock used a state campaign committee to pay the $125 fee to access Salesforce and then illegally transferred information including email addresses to his federal campaign.
McCane included an email sent to him by the Senate campaign. By phone, McCane said he has never filed an FEC complaint before.
"I would like them to investigate whether or not there's been a violation of the rules," said McCane, "and at that point what they do is up to them."
There is a flat denial from the Mourdock campaign spokesman, Chris Conner.
"We've not had access to Salesforce since the end of 2010," he said. "We never got into Salesforce. There's no way we could have done anything with the data."
Conner said this is merely an attempt by the Lugar campaign to smear Mourdock.
John McCane is a Lugar supporter. His name sounds like - but is spelled differently than - that of the Arizona senator who is scheduled to appear in Lugar campaign ads.
To illustrate just how biased Shella's coverage of the race between Lugar and Mourdock is, Shella refused to report on an earlier complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee by Greg Wright based on Lugar's admission that he illegally billed federal taxpayers for return trips back to Indiana. Lugar repaid nearly $15,000 to the U.S. Treasury after he learned that his political opponents had obtained his travel reimbursement records pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request to prove that he had violated Senate rules. Former Sen. David Durenburger (R-MN) faced censure and criminal prosecution for doing the same thing back in the 1990s. Shella did not consider that worthy of reporting, but he rushed to air a story based on a complaint that any election lawyer would have told the reporter is not actionable. It's just another example of how you simply cannot trust anything you are being told by the mainstream political reporters in this campaign. The establishment media has decided Lugar must be re-elected, and it will do anything it can to bolster him while tearing down Richard Mourdock no matter how baseless the allegations are. There's a reason Shella is derisively referred to as Jim Shallow.

Pat Boone Is An Unlikely Lugar Supporter

Entertainer Pat Boone seems to be the unlikeliest of persons from the entertainment industry to be coming to Indiana to help Sen. Richard Lugar in his hotly-contested primary race with Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has the backing of many conservatives within the Republican Party and among Tea Party activists. Boone is scheduled to appear at a fundraising luncheon for Lugar this Saturday in Monticello, an event that is co-hosted by White Co. Prosecutor Bob Guy and former Monticello Mayor Jason Thompson. “We’re delighted, but not surprised that Pat Boone is encouraging fellow conservatives to support Dick Lugar – a champion of fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C.,” Thompson said in a press release issued by the Lugar campaign on Boone's scheduled appearance.

Boone, a singer, actor and motivational speaker with strong conservative leanings, has created quite a fire storm at a small college in Michigan where he is scheduled next month to deliver a commencement address and receive an honorary degree. Faculty and students at Adrian College have been circulating petitions protesting Boone's selection because of Boone’s “inflammatory kinds of rhetoric.” They are particularly upset because of Boone's views on homosexuality and the fact that he has openly questioned Barack Obama's natural born citizenship status. WND reports on the controversy:
Janet Salzwedel, an officer with the faculty association, told the newspaper professors were upset with what she called Boone’s “inflammatory kinds of rhetoric.”

The Blade also cited objections over Boone’s willingness to question Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president and the legitimacy of the document the White House presented as Obama’s purported, long-form birth certificate.
“He is free to speak at other places,” Salzwedel said, “but this is about the students and their day, and [Boone] is not what Adrian College represents.”

According to the Blade, it’s Boone’s commentaries in WND that have “riled some people on the United Methodist Church-affiliated college campus.”
A Facebook page set up to “keep Pat Boone off of Adrian College’s campus” contends that Boone spends his time as a “political pundit, promoting his views of racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance” and then links to a press release put out by the Human Rights Campaign, a leading homosexual activism group.

The Facebook page, under the name of Adrian College junior Chelsea Blankinship, cites a 2008 Boone column in WND that she says “stepped outside the bounds of decency and morality” for “comparing LGBT activism with the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.”

Boone’s column specifically states that homosexual activists haven’t grown as violent as jihadi terrorists, but does point to “the anger, the vehemence, the total disregard for law and order … the hate seething in the words, faces and actions” of some of California’s Proposition 8 protesters, who took to the streets demanding the state’s voter-approved ballot initiative preserving marriage between one man and one woman be struck down.

“Hate is hate, no matter where it erupts,” Boone writes in the column’s pivotal paragraph. “And hate, unbridled, will eventually and inevitably boil into violence. How crazily ironic that the homosexual activists and sympathizers cry for ‘tolerance’ and ‘equal rights’ and understanding – while they spew vitriol and threats and hate at those who disagree with them on moral and societal grounds.”

Blankinship contends of Boone, “When someone makes their living declaring hate and intolerance, [he] has no place on a college campus that was founded as a campus that accepts diversity.”
College President Jeffrey Docking told the Blade that Boone was selected from a list of speakers forwarded by a committee, which included faculty, and that Boone has no intention of politicizing his commencement address.

But Docking also insists that colleges should not be in the business of screening out politically incorrect viewpoints.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Boston Newspaper Editor Wants Hoosier Democrats To Save Lugar

Sen. Richard Lugar is facing his most difficult political race since his election to the U.S. Senate 36 years ago. His Republican primary opponent thinks he's lost his conservative values and has been living in Washington too long. So who is advising Indiana Democrats to switch parties in the May 8th primary and take a Republican ballot in order to save Lugar's political career? The answer is the editor of the Boston Globe, a dyed in the wool liberal Democrat. Here's a little of the advice Peter Canellos has for Hoosier Democrats:

 . . . Caught in the middle are Indiana’s Democrats and independents. They can take Republican ballots, and that presents a dilemma. While Lugar is clearly the preferable candidate, many Democrats are salivating at the thought of a Mourdock victory, because the seat would become a target for a Democratic takeover. With an uncontested senatorial primary of their own — US Representative Joe Donnelly will be their nominee — most of Indiana’s Democrats are content to stay home and let the Republicans slug it out.
But they shouldn’t. If Democrats care about bipartisanship, and are disgusted by the congressional Republicans’ wall of resistance to any policy associated with Obama, they should jump in and save Dick Lugar.
The notion that congressional minorities can, by halting progress even on middle-ground legislation, engineer their comebacks is the most obnoxious political strategy to emerge in decades. By blocking such bills, the minority legislators make the president and his allies seem impotent, depressing their supporters. As Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, has pointed out: If bipartisan legislation is successful, it helps the president and other incumbents; if nothing gets through, however, voters become outraged and demand a change. The only change available is the minority party that’s done all the blocking.
The Democrats tried a version of this strategy after 2006, but only after six fitful years of alternately cooperating and sparring with the Bush administration. Afterward, when Bush needed their support on the politically treacherous bank bailout, they gave it. Republicans have taken a more scorched-earth approach, blocking even those programs that they themselves once introduced — from the individual mandate for health insurance, to “cap-and-trade” plans to limit carbon pollution, to loans for renewable energy — mainly because Obama embraced them.
Senior senators like Lugar — who, after 36 years, has the right to his own judgment — can be checks on destructive partisanship. So conservative activists try to rein them in with right-wing challenges in Republican primaries, knowing that in a conservatives-only contest, the loudest and most unyielding conservative is likely to win. Fear of such challenges cause many GOP incumbents to kowtow to extremists; some, like Maine’s Olympia Snowe, are so put off they leave of their own accord.
The best way for Democrats to combat this tactic is not to lick their chops in hopes of a Tea Party victory. True, those candidates can be easier targets for Democrats. But some extremists win, pulling the Republicans further to the right. And conservative activists don’t mind losing to prove a point. Former GOP senators like Bob Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania can attest to the cost of deviating from the activist-enforced line. Successful right-wing primary challenges can gain the conservative movement more through the terrified obsequiousness of GOP officeholders than it would lose in a few Democratic victories.
For Democrats and independents to rally around Lugar might appear to confirm that he is, as the Mourdock forces ludicrously claim, “Obama’s favorite senator.” But it would also show that dignity and commitment to public service have a broader appeal than crass adherence to partisan destructiveness. Indiana Democrats should make sure the best candidate wins the Republican primary, even if they plan to vote against him in November.
Richard Mourdock continues to be blessed by Richard Lugar's friends. I'm always fascinated how the fans of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have the audacity to suggest Republicans in Congress practice scorched earth politics when that is precisely how the Democrats in Washington operate as a matter of course. Bipartisanship to them is shorthand for giving more power to Washington to tax, regulate and control our lives. Anyone who opposes their agenda is by definition a partisan extremist.

Chrysler Auto Bailout Fight Defining Moment For Mourdock

The Star's Mary Beth Schneider has a story in Sunday's edition discussing how State Treasurer Richard Mourdock's fight against the Chrysler bailout plan was a defining moment in his political career.

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock made a decision three years ago that was fraught with risk for thousands of Hoosier jobs and his own political future.
He tried to stop the Chrysler bankruptcy deal.
Within minutes of his decision, he became a target -- especially for many in the auto industry.
"I thought that my political career was over," Mourdock recalled.
Instead, he now could become the spoiler in the re-election bid of Indiana's iconic veteran lawmaker, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, in the May 8 Senate primary . . .
The plan required secured bondholders to accept 29 cents on the dollar for their investments. That came as a shock to Indiana. The Indiana State Police Pension Fund and the Major Moves road construction fund, managed by the treasurer, and the Teachers' Retirement Fund, managed by a board, all had Chrysler bonds.

Mourdock said he bought them in the summer of 2008 at 43 cents on the dollar -- cheap because the auto industry already was in trouble.

It's a decision that his political opponents question.

Mourdock, though, argued then and now that the risk was acceptable because these were secured bonds, and a secured creditor gets priority in recouping money in the event of bankruptcy.

Accepting the deal meant the police fund would lose about $147,000, the highway fund $896,000 and the teachers' fund $4.6 million, the treasurer's office said at the time.
Nationally, banks acquiesced, though they stood to lose the most from the deal. So did the only other states that had funds invested: California and Michigan.

"I remember meeting with the governor," Mourdock said. "We were just in shock that this could be happening, that these people could be rolled this way."
Still, Mourdock hesitated.

"I went back and forth. You wonder, is it the right thing? Is it the wrong thing?"
The story doesn't explain that Gov. Mitch Daniels sided with Mourdock's decision to fight the bankruptcy deal for Chrysler. As Daniels wrote in his recent book:
Mourdock and I, as trustees of the pension plans, decided that submission was just not an acceptable course. We authorized the lawsuit and, with the help of cut rates from attorneys incensed about the principles being violated, pursued it even after the courts allowed the cramdown to go through.
Indiana's retirees never got their $6 million back, but our resistance was not totally fruitless. A fascinating bit of legal history was made months later, when, almost surreptitiously, the U.S. Supreme Court in December 14, 2009, announced that the Chrysler case would be accorded no precedential value. The rights of secured creditors were secure once more.

In the lower court that first declared it would not be bound by the Chrysler case, the judge likened Indiana's efforts to "the little man in Tiananmen Square when the tanks rolled in." The tyranny here was more benign, but the government's disdain for law was pronounced nonetheless . . .

Hatch Forced In To Primary Race

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), like Sen. Richard Lugar, is facing a tough re-election challenge from within his own party. Hatch had hoped to avoid a primary race against a former state senator, Dan Liljenquist. Hatch needed to win at least 60% of the votes of the state party's convention delegates yesterday in order to avoid a primary race. He fell short by fewer than 50 votes from receiving the necessary 60% of the vote in the second round of voting against Liljenquist after receiving 57% of the in the first round of voting.

Hatch told delegates before the final vote that experience can make all the difference in getting conservative priorities passed. "It will be my last six years in the U.S. Senate, but they'll be the best six years and the most critical six years of all," he said.
Liljenquis took issue with Hatch's assertion that his seniority was such a critical asset. He noted that Hatch had used a similar argument in previous elections and that the GOP would still be in good hands without Hatch's influence because Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho was next in line for serve as the next Finance Committee chairman if the Senate changes hands.
Two years ago, Utah's former Republican Sen. Bob Bennett was ousted at the state party convention.

Gregg Embraces D.C. Insiders While Deriding Them

The Evansville Courier & Press's Eric Bradner has a story on Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg's D.C. fundraiser this past week titled, "Gregg's D.C. contracts contradict D.C."

On the campaign trail, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Gregg often rips on Washington — a place he says voters "don't want anything to do with."
It's a line intended to highlight the resume of his Republican opponent, Mike Pence, who has spent 12 years representing Indiana's 6th District in the U.S. House.
"Washington, D.C. is a broken system and we don't want any part of that in Indiana," Gregg said recently.
He uses those lines often enough that Republicans are now taking note of the former Indiana House speaker's connections to the nation's capital in an effort to raise the question: Isn't Gregg a professional politician, too?
Most recently, they pointed out a fundraiser for Gregg held Wednesday night at Johnny's Half Shell, a Washington, D.C. restaurant.
Among the hosts were a number of former and current senators and House members, including Evan Bayh, Baron Hill, Joe Donnelly, Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky. Also invited was Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, head of the national Democratic Governors' Association.
The event raised money that Gregg needs. He's facing a three-to-one financial disadvantage, since he closed March out with $1.5 million in the bank while Pence had $4.9 million.
The location, though, prompted Republicans to point out that it seemed at odds with Gregg's campaign rhetoric about Washington.
"You can call that Speaker Gregg's personal D.C. bailout," said Pete Seat, the Indiana Republican Party's spokesman.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Democratic Party invited former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to speak at its major Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on May 4 — an event Gregg and other party leaders are sure to attend.
Gregg's campaign responded that one night in Washington is nothing compared to Pence's time there since he was elected in 2000.
"If Hoosiers are worried about bringing Washington to the governor's office, then they certainly shouldn't be supporting Congressman Mike Pence — the ultimate Washington insider," said Gregg spokeswoman Megan Jacobs . . .

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rose-Hulman's President Dies Following Medical Emergency

WTHI-TV is reporting the unexpected death of Rose-Hulman President Matt Branam, a Terre Haute native, after Branam suffered a medical emergency in his office and was rushed to Union Hospital where he died a short time later. University officials plan to announce an interim president later this afternoon. Calls Bull On Lugar's False Attacks Against Mourdock

The Indiana news media is in the tank with Sen. Richard Lugar's re-election campaign so it is giving him a pass to run one false attack ad after another lying to Indiana voters about the record of his opponent, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The liberal, however, is not giving Lugar a pass on his false attack ads. Here's a synopsis of what the organization found:
The Republican primary for Sen. Richard Lugar’s seat is apparently too close for comfort. Both Lugar’s campaign and the American Action Network are airing misleading attack ads against Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, the senator’s challenger for the nomination. The ads strain the facts to make Mourdock look like a tax cheat who makes bad investments and does not show up for work.
  • The AAN ad claims that “Hoosier pensions and other funds lost millions” because of Mourdock’s “big bet on junk bonds.” That’s an exaggeration. It’s true that three state funds that purchased Chrysler debt in 2008 lost money when that company went through bankruptcy in 2009. But Mourdock didn’t oversee the investments of the Indiana Teacher’s Retirement Fund, which is the only one that actually lost “millions.”
  • Ads from both the AAN and the Lugar campaign fault Mourdock for receiving an illegal second homestead deduction on a condominium he purchased in 2006. But the previous owner of the property, not Mourdock, applied for the deduction. Mourdock claimed that he notified the county auditor’s office of the illegal deduction in 2007. And the county auditor’s office has actually said that it erred in not removing the credit.
  • The AAN ad also says that Mourdock has “skipped 66 percent of his official board meetings.” That’s true, according to an analysis done by Howey Politics Indiana. In his defense, Mourdock’s office says that the treasurer or his designee sits on 13 boards and commissions, and that Mourdock is nearly always represented by a senior staff member when he doesn’t attend meetings personally.
It is simply beyond the pale how biased the Indiana media has been in its coverage of this Senate primary race. The media has been reporting about a made up scandal claiming that Mourdock's Senate campaign is under investigation for allegedly trying to hack into the state Republican Party's e-mail database. The story is patently false. In fact, Sen. Lugar's campaign has been granted full access to use the system for the past year as every person in the database can tell you because of the number of e-mail communications with which they've been inundated by the Lugar campaign, even folks who've never contributed, supported or otherwise consented to be placed on the campaign's e-mail distribution list. A supporter of Lugar spread the false allegations to the Indiana news media, which ran with the made up controversy, to make it appear that the Mourdock campaign had engaged in some nefarious activity despite the total lack of evidence that anything of the sort had occurred.

The fact is that you simply cannot believe anything the mainstream political reporters are reporting on this Senate race. They are in bed with Lugar's re-election, and they will lie and distort everything associated with this campaign to besmirch Mourdock in their orchestrated effort to re-elect the out-of-touch Lugar, who has demonstrated throughout his political career that there is no unethical conduct he is not willing to engage in order to get what he wants. The same media that ran with this bogus computer hacking story won't even report on the fact that Lugar potentially committed multiple federal felonies by illegally billing taxpayers for his return trips to Indiana. The Democrats in the U.S. Senate will promptly announce the appointment of a special investigator to look into Lugar's illegal conduct if he wins re-nomination so that an otherwise safe Republican Senate seat can be handed to a Democratic candidate by default precisely the way the late Sen. Ted Stevens' seat was handed to a Democrat during the 2008 election.

Daniels' Illinois Speech Greeted By Thousands Of Protesters

An estimated 5,000 union workers showed up to protest a speech Gov. Mitch Daniels gave to the Champaign County Republicans because of Daniels' support of Indiana's recently enacted right to work law. Earlier this week, a similar number of union protesters showed up at a speaking appearance by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during a speech he gave to an Illinois Chamber of Commerce meeting in Springfiled. The Champaign News-Gazette has some quotes from Daniels' speech to nearly 500 Republicans who gathered for the party's Lincoln Day dinner in Champaign:

"When you take money away from people, you leave them a little less free," said Daniels . . .
"It leaves more disposable money in the pockets of those who earned it," he said. "When you approach the public mission that way, you maximize freedom."
When government increases spending and increases its debt, Daniels said, the middle class is hurt.
"For the first time in our history, people do not have the hope that has always been there in the darkest hour that my children will live better than I do," Daniels said. "We are seeing an eroding of the opportunity, and therefore the hope, for a vibrant, stable middle class in this country."
One way to improve the business climate, Daniels said, it to keep taxes as low as possible. The governor noted that Indiana corporate income taxes, worker's compensation, unemployment insurance and property taxes are all lower than those in Illinois.
"The lower our taxes are compared to the neighboring states, the more competitive we are," Daniels said.
Daniels said he isn't saying what he has done in Indiana is good for Illinois.
"If you are asking me if Illinois should pass a right to work law, please don't," Daniels said. "We're welcoming businesses every day and would hate to have that advantage neutralized."
Daniels said government must be careful to use the power of taxation prudently and use the money wisely . . .
"When we use the coercive power of the state to take money from people who need it, we need to be careful about it," Daniels said.
"Those folks over there don't think you can cut it," Daniels said, speaking of the Democrats. "They don't think you can possibly make your own decisions about your mortgage or health insurance or health care choices or the light bulbs that are best for you.
"We (Republicans) believe you are fully capable. You are a creature of dignity; not an object of therapy."
Daniels noted that President Barack Obama got elected with a slogan, "Change you can believe in."
"I asked myself, 'What the hell does that mean?'" Daniels said. "It doesn't mean anything, and that was its magic as a marketing device.
"I decided we as Republicans ought to twist that slogan into something that does have meaning. That would be 'Change that believes in you.'"

Marion County Election Board To Reconsider Voter Data Policy

The Marion County Election Board is meeting today to reconsider its recent decent not to adopt a policy for the release of electronic voter registration data, a move derided by several non-slated candidates for office in the May 8th primary who have been denied access to the electronic voting records they had requested for use in their respective campaigns. Several judicial and legislative candidates filed a lawsuit last week in the Marion Co. Circuit Court seeking a preliminary injunction that would force the board to adopt a nondiscriminatory policy for releasing electronic voter registration information in accordance with state law. The court agreed to stay its proceedings by agreement of the parties to give the board time to meet today to reconsider its decision not to adopt a policy. A preliminary injunction hearing had been scheduled for 1:00 p.m. today. The election board will meet this morning at 10:00 a.m. to take up this issue.

UPDATE: The board adopted a policy today, but it can hardly be described as a nondiscriminatory policy. The information the nonslated candidates can get is bulk data that provides only the names and addresses of the registered voters in the county. The candidates will not be allowed to filter their requests to include only those persons who have a history of voting in the Republican or Democratic primary in past elections. The slated candidates, of course, are able to get their information directly from their respective parties, which get it in bulk from the state election division, which includes additional information about the voter's past voting history, sex and date of birth. Essentially, the only purpose the candidates could use the information is a shotgun mailing that would encompass many voters who would never vote in the candidate's respective party primary. Such a mailing would be extremely costly and wasteful. That's the purpose behind the policy--to make it a waste of time to even obtain the data in electronic format.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Election Division To Investigate McIntosh Voter Residency

The Madison Co. Clerk and Madison Co. Prosecutor's Office have both rebuffed calls to investigate the voter registration of former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh after a complaint against him was filed recently. The Secretary of State's Elections Division told the Star today that it will investigate the complaint also filed with its office, but it offered no time frame for conducting the investigation.
The Indiana secretary of state's office will investigate claims made against congressional candidate David McIntosh's residency and voting records, a spokesman announced today.
Vance Poole, spokesman for the Indiana Secretary of State, said no timeline is available and he had no further comment. It's unclear if the investigation will wrap up before the May 8 primary . . .
One of McIntosh's opponents, Dr. John McGoff, applauded today's announcement. “I commend new Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson for investigating claims against David McIntosh," McGoff said. "Her decision today defends 5th District voters to full disclosure of all information.” “I encourage expediency in this case. Today, Secretary of State Connie Lawson stood up to protect 5th District voters. By taking up an investigation, she has committed herself to providing Hoosiers all the facts necessary to make an informed decision when electing their next Congressman.”

In a press release issued earlier today, McGoff criticized Madison Co. Prosecutor Rodney Cummings, who declined to review the complaint filed with Madison Co. election authorities until after the May 8th primary. Cummings, who blamed the filing of the complaint on politics, had last year offered an advisory opinion to McIntosh in response to a letter a high profile criminal defense attorney, Jackie Bennett, sent to Cummings asking him to opine on the legality of McIntosh's voter registration in Anderson. In a brief reply letter, Cummings concurred with Bennett's legal analysis concluding McIntosh could legally registered to vote at the home of a friend and business associate despite the fact that he and his family live in Arlington, Virginia.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hite Not Certified To Serve As Police Chief In Indiana

Well, this doesn't look good. After announcing just yesterday that Public Safety Director Frank Straub's chief deputy, Rick Hite, a former Baltimore police officer, would assume the role of acting chief of police following IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski's ouster yesterday after the latest snafu in the Officer David Bisard investigation was publicly disclosed, we learn today that Hite is not certified to hold the position of police chief in Indiana. WRTV's Rafael Sanchez reports:

The Indianapolis Metro Police Department's newly-named interim police chief is not certified to hold the position, public safety officials said . . .
Despite Hite’s experience, he’s not certified to work in Indiana, officials said.
Indianapolis public safety officials said that until Hite receives certification in the Hoosier state, an assistant police chief will take over the position.
Straub is being grilled by the Indianapolis City-County Council's Public Safety Committee as I write on whether the council should approve his reappointment. The Star's Jon Murray reports that one of the first questions fired at Straub by a councilor was this zinger from Councilor Frank Mascari: “Why is it that everybody at IMPD is accountable for their actions but you?” He added: “Every time something goes wrong, it seems like you throw somebody under the bus.” Ouch.

Mourdock Poll Shows One-Point Lead Over Lugar

The campaign of Richard Mourdock released the results of an internal campaign poll today that shows Mourdock leading Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary race by 42-41%. The poll was administered by McLaughlin & Associates and was taken April 16-17. The poll surveyed 400 likely Republican voters and has a margin of error of 4.9% in either direction. A poll taken in January by the same polling firm showed Lugar leading Mourdock by 12 percentage points, 48-36%. The number of undecided voters actually increased by a single percentage point from 16% to 17% in the latest survey.

The latest survey also shows Mourdock's favorable rating increasing by 11 percentage points at the same time Lugar's favorable rating fell 10 percentage points. The candidates' respective favorable ratings are now nearly equal. Particularly concerning for Lugar is that his favorable rating is now below 50% with just 47% of the respondents saying they view him favorably compared to 46% who said they viewed Mourdock favorably. Lugar is now viewed unfavorably by 39% compared to 22% who view Mourdock unfavorably. Even worse for Lugar is the survey's finding that among those who had a firm opinion of both candidates, Mourdock is leading 55-36%. You can view the pollster's memo discussing the poll's results by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Straub Blames Lapdog Chief For Latest Police Screw Up

Mayor Greg Ballard says he's "angry and disgusted" by today's revelation that a second vial of blood drawn from Officer David Bisard in his deadly drunken driving case while driving a police cruiser has been mishandled, but he's not angry enough to blame his highly-criticized Public Safety Director, Frank "I'm In Charge Here" Straub, for the latest screw up. Instead, Straub's lapdog chief, Paul Ciesielski, has taken the fall, along with Valerie Cunningham, the police officer Straub previously lauded for her work in the Bisard investigation when he was throwing other members of Ciesielski's leadership team under the bus for mistakes none of them made. "Senior leadership failed," Ciesielski said of his senior leadership team back in 2010 when they were demoted and blamed for the failure of police to gather blood alcohol evidence from Bisard in accordance with a recently-enacted law, causing then-Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to throw out drunk driving charges against Bisard. WTHR's Steve Jefferson reports on today's announcement:
On Tuesday, Mayor Greg Ballard revealed that a vial of Bisard's blood investigators were going to test to determine if the officer was drunk at the time of the crash had been mishandled. The blood had been removed from a refrigerated and secure police property room and taken to an unrefrigerated police annex.
It's the second time in the case that proper procedures were not followed after the crash. The first time, Bisard was tested on the day of the crash, but because of concerns over where the blood draw occurred, the DUI charges against him were thrown out. That first test put Bisard's blood alcohol content over twice the legal limit, something Bisard and his attorneys have denied.
Both vials of Bisard's blood samples were originally stored in the property room. The second vial of blood was moved sometime in November 2011. When prosecutors received approval to have the second vial tested by Judge Grant Hawkins last week, that's when they discovered the mishandling of the evidence.
Straub says they know who moved the blood sample, but he says it's not the chief or Valerie Cunningham. He did not say who it was.
In the wake of the controversy, the police chief has resigned but remains on the force as a captain. Two other officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Any thought of feeling sorry for Ciesielski is immediately dismissed when one considers how he failed to stand up for his senior leaders when they were unfairly blamed by Straub for police failures in the Bisard investigation. Those senior leaders were all summoned from the scene of the deadly crash back to Straub's office for an emergency meeting with Ciesielski and Straub to discuss the public safety director's troubling public image, which revealed just how little Ciesielski and Straub failed to grasp or to care about the seriousness of the deadly crash involving one of their own police officers. While Straub spent enormous time and energy assigning blame to others within IMPD for their handling of the Bisard case, he apparently failed to ensure the balance of the investigation was being handled properly to avoid further screw ups. By placing the blame today on Ciesielski, Cunningham and others within the police department, Straub is able to accomplish what he set out to do from the beginning, which was to install in every senior management position within the police department persons totally beholden to him. Straub wasted no time in appointing his deputy director, Rick Hite, a high-paid import he brought to the Department from the Baltimore Police Department, as acting IMPD Chief.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ballard, who made it his number one priority when elected mayor to get control of IMPD, continues to gladly delegate responsibility for running the department to Straub and to keep his own hands as far away from the department as possible. Straub's shameless self-promotion was on display as Ballard stood behind him staring at his feet.  "The policies and practices of this department need to change. They need to be professionalized and we need to move forward and I am 100 percent committed to that. And you see these changes coming because of my leadership," said Straub. Yeah, more of that change in leadership that you can believe in.

Hypocritical Lugar Accuses Mourdock Of Homestead Exemption Fraud

I've warned people who read this blog that history tells us that the real Dick Lugar has run some of the dirtiest campaigns of any politician in this state's history whenever he has faced a difficult race. Proving once again how low he will stoop, Lugar is accusing Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock of homestead exemption fraud. From a Lugar press release today:
Like every Indiana homeowner, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is entitled to one, and only one, homestead tax deduction. But Mourdock took two and he did so for three years," spokesman Andy Fisher said. "He says he didn't notice he was cheating, but Mourdock studied his tax statement closely enough to appeal his assessed value - yet didn't notice he was getting a $45,000 deduction on the next line of his bill. Like other Indiana property owners, Mourdock received multiple 'pink forms' stating that reporting his homestead deduction was his responsibility."
According to the state's Homestead Verification Fact Sheet, "homestead fraud occurs when an individual or married couple receive the benefit of more than one homestead deduction or claim the deduction on property that is not their primary residence."
"Homestead fraud causes taxpayers who follow the law to pay more money to support local police and fire protection among other local services," Fisher said. "Voters have the right to question if the state treasurer didn't care, was incompetent or a tax cheat."
The facts of the homestead exemption have been vetted and proven to show that the error was made by the Marion County Auditor's office, which accepted responsibility for applying the homestead exemption to Mourdock's Indianapolis condominium. The application had been filled out by the previous owner, and the office inadvertently extended it to Mourdock after he purchased it even though he didn't fill out the required paperwork to claim the exemption. Mourdock brought the error to the attention of the Auditor's office and repaid the difference in property taxes he owed. For Lugar to even imply that Mourdock had engaged in homestead exemption fraud is beyond the pale. This demonstrates just how desperate he has become. Polls are showing that he cannot possibly win the Republican primary race unless he carpet bombs Mourdock to drive up his negatives even higher than Lugar's own disapproval numbers.

It's also quite hypocritical for Lugar to accuse Mourdock of cheating on his taxes when Lugar was caught red-handed illegally billing the federal government to the tune of nearly $15,000 for trips he made back to the state of Indiana while the Senate was not in session. Lugar blamed the mistake that apparently was made for more than three decades on an "arcane Senate rule" that his staff didn't know about. Yep, just an arcane rule that says you can't bill taxpayers for overnight travel to the place you claim as your residence in your home state. It still remains unclear whether Lugar has properly reimbursed taxpayers as his office refuses to disclose an audit of his expense reimbursements to determine whether all of the money owed to taxpayers has been repaid. Former Sen. David Durenberger was censured and prosecuted for doing the same thing a little more than a decade ago. A Washington, D.C. watchdog group, Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to open a formal investigation of Lugar.

Public records also reveal that Lugar and his wife have accepted all-expense paid foreign travel courtesy of a global think tank, Aspen Institute, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past decade alone. Adding up all the time Lugar spent on these all-expense paid trips while the Senate wasn't in session, Lugar spent more than a year traveling the globe at the expense of the think tank that promotes a New World Order agenda that he has supported as Indiana's senior senator instead of spending time in Indiana representing the people he was elected to represent. It's no wonder that Lugar sold the only home he owned in Indiana 35 years ago and moved to his permanent new home in McLain, Virginia just outside the nation's capital.

I've been telling folks for some time now that the old guard establishment in this state that is backing Lugar has decided that a lesson must be taught to anyone who bucks it. The old guard is engaged in an all out effort to destroy Mourdock. The party establishment seeks to blame Mourdock for Lugar's woes when the reality is that Lugar has nobody but himself to blame for his political problems. He long ago lost touch with Hoosiers, who have rightfully reached the conclusion that 36 years is long enough for any one politician to serve in Washington. In a tantrum fit for an infant, the old guard wants to exact its punishment on Mourdock and ensure that he loses the general election to Donnelly if their man Lugar can't hold on to a Senate seat he has decided shall be his for the asking, or until his death, whichever occurs first. Lugar could have ended his career gracefully, but he chose not to do so. It's his legacy that will permanently suffer as a result of the way he has conducted this campaign, and it's his own party that will suffer the loss of a Republican seat that should have remained safely in Republican hands.